By Sydney Dominick
Pittsburgh is known for its neighborhood hidden gems, little places that are unique to the city. They are what makes this city home. Perched on top of Troy Hill is one such gem: Saint Anthony Chapel. Inside this unassuming chapel, there is a display of over 5,200 relics, which is second only to the Vatican. The most famous relic is that of St. Anthony’s tooth. These relics were brought to Pittsburgh by a Belgium priest and doctor, Father Mollinger, in the mid-to-late 19th century. At the time, Troy Hill had a thriving German-Catholic community who were eager for a center. The chapel became one as many flocked to it not only to see the beautiful display but also to heal from it. Thousands pilgrimed to the chapel to seek a miracle for their ailments and many would. The relics and the overall sacredness of the chapel is said to have healed thousands and they would leave their crutches and canes as a reminder of the miracles that took place in the chapel.
Unfortunately, the chapel fell into disrepair as congregates left the city in the mid-20th century. Plans were made for the demolition of the historic landmark in the 1970s, but grassroots protests began. Mary Wohleber championed the site until it became a historic landmark and thus safe. Today, it is in relatively the same condition as it was during Father Mollinger’s time.
The chapel demonstrates the importance of the church to immigrants and the influence immigrants had and have in creating Pittsburgh’s landscape. It also illustrates the historic preservation that began in the 1970s to protect many religious buildings around the city as “revitalization” began, often targeting low-income communities. Saint Anthony Chapel is another unique spot in Pittsburgh’s long history.
Cheney, Jim. “The majority of the chapel’s most important relics are housed in reliquaries behind the altar.” Uncovering PA, 25 March 2016, https://uncoveringpa.com/saint-anthonys-chapel-pittsburgh.
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Uncovering PA. “Visiting the World’s Second Largest Collection of Catholic Relics at St. Anthony’s Chapel in Pittsburgh.” UncoveringPA, 6 Mar. 2019, uncoveringpa.com/saint-anthonys-chapel-pittsburgh. Wiśniewski, Robert, and ProQuest (Firm). The Beginnings of: The Cult of Relics. Oxford University Press, Oxford, 2019.
How to Cite
MLA: Dominick, Sydney. “Saint Anthony’s Chapel.” ReligYinz: Mapping Religious Pittsburgh, University of Pittsburgh, 20 Jan. 2020, religyinz.pitt.edu/saint-anthony-chapel/
APA: Dominick, S. (2020, 20 January). Saint anthony’s chapel. ReligYinz: Mapping Religious Pittsburgh, University of Pittsburgh. https://religyinz.pitt.edu/saint-anthony-chapel/
Chicago: Dominick, Sydney. “Saint Anthony’s Chapel.” ReligYinz: Mapping Religious Pittsburgh. University of Pittsburgh, January 20. 2020. https://religyinz.pitt.edu/saint-anthony-chapel/